Sheila A. McHugh is an Achill Island woman, by birth and bearing. As Chairperson of the Achill Heinrich Böll Association she is actively involved in the creation and promotion of art and culture within the local community. She has been co-editor and publisher of a trice yearly, 48 page journal, Muintir Acla, which has been described as, ‘a good, sometimes provocative, Achill-based bi-lingual magazine’. Sheila is currently a student in the MA in Writing programme at NUIG.
The Poem Nearly Died
The poem nearly died, and me with it.
It’s cries welled up from the depths,
Write me, write me it stuttered.
But I, afraid to speak the truth
Sent it to the dark cave on the edge of memory.
Words seeped through the cold soil of fear.
Crept soundlessly in the dead of night,
Appearing in dream world’s visceral landscape
Seeking reprieve in this elusive underworld.
Write me, it echoed persistently.
Letter by letter the words escaped,
Consonants and vowels cloaked in anonymity
Slid unobserved into the black hole of creation’s chaos.
Words with a purpose,
Words without a purpose, but fulfilling their purpose anyway.
Words with something to say,
Words with the promise of fulfillment.
Words of joy, words of sorrow, words of shame.
Empty words. Harsh words.
Them words, us words, tearing us apart words,
never to be forgotten words are all there,
waiting to tumble out when given the opportunity.
Words break hearts, open old wounds.
Writers Are Refugees*
Writers are refugees: people who seek asylum in words.
They are journeying from where they can no longer be
to a place not yet determined.
Wordy emotional baggage discarded along the way,
too cumbersome for a language that does not sit easily on the tongue.
New world, patched with a remnant of that which has been left behind;
a rain-swept, green world, where words are forged to their essence.
* This poem is dedicated to writers who have the courage to speak the truth in the cause of freedom and justice and are forced to flee their own country or be killed as a consequence.